The Hit Maker - The Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retro SportBy Stephen Watson
Due to overwhelming demand, pop star Miley Cyrus recently released a cover of Blondie’s 1979 signature hit “Heart of Glass.” Miley’s version is compelling, a retro disco-inspired rock anthem not only refreshed, but even a bit radical. While no one will ever match Debbie Harry’s cool fronting Blondie in its heyday, Miley’s version gives the new wave band a run for their money. Taking on an untouchable classic is inadvisable for most artists, but in this instance, the results are clearly worth the risks.
Consider a comparable tale within the world of horlogerie: it makes perfect sense that watch brand Gérald Genta, acquired by Bulgari in 2000, is remixing some of its greatest successes for a new audience in 2020. Genta was responsible for some of the watch industry’s greatest hits for over the last 50 years; modern-day watch design’s lineage can be traced to him. No modern designer is more influential in the space. For Bulgari, reviving the heyday of his career is a fascinating venture, as his distinctly stylized watches never left the forefront of design.
In 2019, Bulgari revealed the platinum Arena Bi-Retro 50th Anniversary, based on an iconic design from 1969, reviving Genta’s signature jumping hour mechanical movement. The 50th Anniversary piece’s unconventional dial features retrograde minutes and date with typical Genta flair, using his iconic, rule-breaking sense of fun and playfulness, something sorely lacking in many of today’s watch brands. Bulgari implied this 50th-anniversary edition was no one-off special. There was more Gérald Genta to come.
Genta’s distinctive design codes return with Bulgari’s introduction of the 2020 Arena Bi-Retro Sport. This 43mm, lightweight titanium, “chic-sport” Arena case borrows its name and unusual rounded shape from Roman architecture, reminiscent of amphitheaters or colosseums. The reimagined Genta logo adorning the dial is as distinctive as the era that inspired it, seventies glamor that’s filtered through nineties cool. It’s a design mashup that looks fresher than ever.
Jumping hours and retrograde minutes, combined for the first time in 1996, are well known Genta calling cards, replacing traditional hour and minute hands. The hour window and minute indexes running across the top of the dial allowed for endless adaptation, including Genta’s beloved “Retro Fantasy” collection of Disney character watches that disguised technical prowess behind lighthearted sophistication. Hopefully this collection will be next on Bulgari’s list.
The Arena Bi-Retro Sport incorporates Bulgari’s legendary attention to detail, utilizing a bi-retro BVL 300 caliber with automatic, bidirectional winding to power the jumping hours, 210-degree retrograde minutes, 180-degree date, and 42 hours of power reserve. Yellow numerals and hands provide a sporty flash against the anthracite dial, with a sapphire-crystal caseback allowing a glimpse of the mechanical movement. The watch’s case is water-resistant to 100 meters. A matte black alligator strap with titanium buckle offers an extra layer of “chic” to an otherwise sporty wristwatch.
Further initiatives for Bulgari’s Genta revival include developing a dedicated Gérald Genta website and a renewed focus on mentoring emerging talent, promising the future of watch design will be supported and developed for decades to come. Genta’s legacy is essential to watchmaking at Bulgari; his influence can be felt throughout the manufacture’s current collections. With the relaunch of the namesake collection within Bulgari, the legacy of Gérald Genta is in good hands. The greatest hits will undoubtedly keep on coming.
Self-winding caliber BVL 300; jumping hours; retrograde minutes; date; 42-hour power reserve
43mm; brushed titanium; water-resistant up to 100m
Matte black alligator with titanium ardillon buckle